Budget Proposals and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 1957.

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Photo of Mr Albert Hunter Mr Albert Hunter , Feltham 12:00 am, 11th April 1957

Yes, retirement pensioners on£104 per year, or, in plain words,£2 per week. I know that there are supplementary pensions from the National Assistance Board; but the reliefs given to those who earn so very much more are 50 per cent, of what these old people get to live on. Millions of pounds by way of tax relief is given to people earning£60,£100 and£200 per week.

The majority of old people are outside the range of Income Tax reliefs, which affect only a very small number. I protest at the way the Chancellor has passed these old people by. I shall not argue about 1947. 1948 or 1949. We are now in the year 1957. The Economic Secretary knows the price of bread in 1951 was 6d. a loaf. It is 1s. today. My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick gave us the figure of£130 million for milk and bread subsidies which were removed and taken from the old people, providing for Income Tax reliefs mainly to people in the upper range of income. The Chancellor did not even offer one word of regret. He never even said, "I am sorry: we cannot do anything for the old-age pensioners at present, but we may be able to do something next year".

Quite frankly, this is a truly Conservative Budget. The majority of people, those in offices and shops, the commercial travellers, engineers, railwaymen, transport workers and the rest, will regard it as a typically Conservative Budget. If there were a General Election, the nation would reject it, for the Budget is mainly in the interests of a very small section of the community, whilst we stand for the nation.